If your childhood was anything like mine you probably played quite a bit of hearts and spades. I even played a little bridge, but I don’t have particularly fond memories of that. Bridge Club was just as geeky as Chess Club but at least in Chess Club there was a future hope of playing against a cool robot or something. Bridge Club looked like it was putting me on a path to lots of church leagues. Enough about my sad past, all three of the games (hearts, spades and bridge) are trick-taking games and the rules are all easily found in the Hoyle Encyclopedia of Games. Because of this, I never really expected to find a new trick taking game – and one called Clubs of all things – to be headed to store shelves. But alas, that is exactly what has happened.
Clubs is coming from North Star Games, a.k.a. the fine folks who gave us Wits & Wagers. Coincidentally, the same guy who invented Wits & Wagers – Dominic Crapuchettes — also invented Clubs! As you may have suspected, Clubs is a trick-taking game. And just like the other trick-taking game it’s played with a deck that has the standard 4 suits. One big difference is that each suit has cards numbered from 1-15 and no face cards.
The goal of the game is to be the first player to get rid of your 10 cards during a round AND win tricks with clubs in them. There’s a stack of bonus cards included in the game and players collect them in the order they go out during a round. So if you’re out first, you get the highest valued bonus card.
The player who leads is going to play a “meld-type” from their hand. In this instance, “meld” means cards grouped together by the same number (“of-a-kind”) or in a straight of cards in any suit (a “run”). For example, you can have a one-card meld of a lone 6, a 2-card meld of two 5s or a two card meld of a 4 and a 5, or a four-card meld of all 7s. Once a player leads his or her meld, everyone else has to play the same kind of meld (an of-a-kind or run). If I start off the round with a 2 (a 1-of-a-kind meld) everyone else is going to be playing a solo card until there is a winner of the trick. The trick is won when a player plays a 15 or everyone passes. The last player to play wins the trick and plays the next leading meld.
The round ends when the 0 Bonus card has been taken. It’s now time to score the round. Players get points for each club they won during the round – and lower clubs are worth more points than higher numbered clubs. After adding in their bonus the scores are recorded and the next round begins. When someone has 50 points the game is over!
It’s a nice different twist on classic trick-taking, meld-making play. If you and your family enjoy hearts and spades this is definitely worth a try! The box also includes the rules for “Crazy Clubs” but I’ll let you explore that option once you get your copy home.
~$12 at Amazon and local game stores
2-6 players (alternative rules for 2 players… but I definitely liked bigger groups)
Ages 8 and up